A terrorist gunman has killed 84 people and seriously injured 50 more after he used a 25-tonne lorry to go on a mile-long killing spree by mounting pavements at high speed and ploughing through crowds celebrating Bastille Day in Nice last night.
The killer, a 31-year-old French Tunisian who was known to police, then got out and sprayed fleeing revellers with bullets before being shot dead by police.
The truck driver was said to have shouted 'Allahu Akbar' – God is greatest – before being killed. Pro-ISIS groups have been celebrating the attack, orchestrated to coincide with France's most important national holiday.
One eyewitness described seeing 'bodies flying like bowling pins' and others 'jammed' under its wheels as the horror unfolded.
Other brave victims were seen clinging to the doors of the lorry to try to stop the terrorist before being thrown under its wheels on the packed streets at around 10.30pm local time last night. Dead bodies remain strewn across the Promenade de Anglais today.
Some of the victims were children, with one young girl lying dead covered in a blanket with her pink toy doll lying on the floor next to her.
Identity documents belonging to the gunman, more guns and grenades were later found in the bullet-riddled truck after the gunman at the wheel was shot dead by police marksmen, security sources said.
The gunman is believed to be from Nice and was known to police for crimes of theft and violence, but not intelligence services, a police source said. A suspected accomplice is on the run.
A huge cache of guns, grenades and 'larger weapons' were later found inside the lorry, which mounted the pavement at approximately 40mph and steered directly towards hundreds of people watching a fireworks display.
French President Francois Hollande today pledged to 'hit' ISIS in Syria and Iraq 'even harder' after the devastating attack, saying: 'France is in tears, it is hurting but it is strong and she will be stronger - always stronger than the fanatics who wish to hurt us.'
WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT
Terror attack: At least 84 people were killed and dozens more critically injured last night when a terrorist killer drove this truck, riddled with bullets, through crowds celebrating Bastille day in Nice
Bereft: A shocked woman in yellow sits on the phone next to the body of a loved-one, surrounded by debris, as ISIS terrorists again struck in France, this time on Bastille Day
Horror: Bodies are still strewn along the mile-long route as police admitted today that the man who killed them was known to them
A truck ploughed through a large group of people in Nice during a suspected terrorist attack which claimed 'dozens of lives'
Police halted the truck after firing more than 40 rounds into the cab as it ploughed through more than 100 people in Nice last night
Horrific images depicting men and women lying on the side of a road close to the Promenade des Anglais
Stunned eyewitnesses prayed over the bodies of their friends and relatives who were killed in the Bastille Day massacre
A child's doll lies on the street beside the body of a young girl who was killed in last night's attack in Nice in the south of France
Armed police took up positions during the attack fearing there were additional terrorists in the area as the perpetrator was shot dead
Death toll: At least ten people lie dead on a short stretch of road where the lorry flew through crowds in Nice, killing families on a national holiday
Emergency services work to save the dead and injured on pavements along the mile-long stretch of road in Nice
Overwhelmed: Paramedics help a stricken victim on the left side of the picture, on the right hand side a man crouches, clearly in tears over the body of a victim
Makeshift: As the death toll rose bodies were left were they were hit or shot and were covered in blankets and often weighed down with whatever was available including rocks from the beach
French President Francois Hollande addressed the nation this morning saying they were all grieving due to last night's massacre
Stunned survivors stood just feet away from from the bodies of five people who were run over next to HiBeach in Nice, pictured
Today the delivery truck, riddled with bullets, remains in the centre of Nice with bodies strewn nearby.
Damien Allemand, a journalist for French regional newspaper Nice Matin saw the horror unfold.
He said the attack began just as the fireworks display ended as thousands of people were milling around the waterside.
He said: 'He rode up onto the Prom and piled into the crowd. A fraction of a second later, an enormous white truck came along at a crazy speed, turning the wheel to mow down the maximum number of people,' he said. I saw bodies flying like bowling pins along its route. Heard noises, cries that I will never forget.'
Witnesses of the attack in Nice described seeing people run through the streets as they heard gunshots.
Wassim Bouhel told the French TV channel iTele that the lorry zigzagged across the road.
He said: 'We almost died. It was like hallucinating ... (the lorry) zigzagged - you had no idea where it was going. My wife was a metre away.
'The lorry ripped through everything, poles, trees. We have never seen anything like it. Some people were hanging on the door and tried to stop it.'
Around 100 people were forced to dive into the sea as panic ensued and holiday crowds desperately ran for their lives. The gunman then jumped out of the truck and opened fire, which is when he was shot dead by police.
French President Francois Hollande said several children were among the dead and added that it was 'undeniable' the massacre was a terrorist attack.
Anti-terror police swooped in as the city was put on lockdown and residents were warned to stay indoors for their safety. Gunshots rang out in the streets, with the gunman targeting hotels and cafes in the port city in the south of France.
One witness called Antoine said: 'We were at the Neptune beach and a firework display had just finished. That is when we saw a white lorry. It was going quickly at 60-70 kilometres an hour.'
Eyewitness Wassim Bouhlel said that he saw a truck drive into the crowd and then witnessed the man emerge with a gun and start shooting.
'There was carnage on the road,' Bouhlel said. 'Bodies everywhere.'
Bodies could be seen lying on the floor by the beach, as the police and other emergency services tried to deal with a mass panic.
French police riddled the truck with gunfire in an effort to kill the crazed driver of the truck which ran down hundreds of people
Aftermath: The scene on the attack on the Promenade de Anglais where the 31-year-old murderer hit as many people as he could before being killed in a shootout with police
Carnage: The killed zig-zagged across the road trying to hit as many people as possible, including several children killed as they watched the fireworks
Investigation: Police in France are now treating this as a terrorist attack and have admitted the killer was known to them and is believed to be from Nice via Tunisia
Horror: Witnesses described seeing bodies of the dead being sent flying in all directions or being jammed under the wheels of the lorry
Terrible: One of the dozens of people killed by the killer lorry driver lies covered on the pavement with her handbag still next to her
Panic: Emergency services were working through the night to treat people in the street where they lay or in local hospitals. Doctors are begging for people to donate blood to help the injured
Icon: The sweeping promenade of Nice with its famous twinkling street lights. Today this famous scene is at the centre of one of France's worst terror attacks
In shock: Three survivors of the terror attack cling to one another as they try to come to terms with what happened and pass the body of someone whose life was taken
Heartbroken: Two men stand next to bodies, with one on a mobile phone, as many families lost loved-ones in the terror attack last night
Grief: A woman sobs into her hands while another man holds on to the body of someone killed by the ISIS terrorist
Help: Crowds of medics
Awful: Friends of a man lying badly injured on the pavement try to treat him as he lies stricken on the floor with no shoes
Tragedy: A family of holidaymakers look at a woman in yellow as she sits next to the body of a loved-one killed in the terror attack
Support: People refuse to leave the side of the dead and injured while others walk dazed along the promenade after surviving the attrocity
Rush: Victims have been rushed to hospital for life-saving treatment but dozens remain critically ill and more are expected to succumb to their injuries
Emergency: Paramedics and doctors try to save a life of an injured victim - surrounded by bodies of those killed yesterday
On guard: France remains in a state of national emergency after a string of awful terror attacks on French soil in the past year
British holidaymaker Esther Serwah, 59, was staying in a hotel a short walk from the scene.
She said she had been on her way to the Promenade des Anglais for dinner with her daughters when people started screaming at her.
DEFIANT FRENCH PRESIDENT FRANCOIS HOLLANDE PLEDGES TO HIT ISIS IN SYRIA AND IRAQ HARDER
Mrs Serwah, from Surrey, said: 'I was just walking to the Promenade and then I saw everybody running and I just didn't know what was going on.
'People were screaming at me in French but I didn't understand.
'Some people were lying on the streets dead and people were running over the bodies.
'Everybody was saying it's a terrorist attack. It's just horrible, horrible, horrible.
'I'm in shock. I'm still shaking.'
British eyewitness Kevin Harris was on the third-floor terrace of his hotel, where people had gathered to watch the fireworks, and saw the remnants of the horror moments before.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, he said: 'I came up to my bedroom on the seventh floor I was in my room for about a minute when I heard gunfire. I went out on to the balcony and, very sadly, I could see many bodes laying out on the road.
'There were many bodies, maybe twenty, and the strange thing was that nobody was moving. Nobody was trying to resuscitate anyone, which suggests everyone was hit so badly hit that there was no point.
'There were very few people around when I was looking down and eventually people started to arrive and they got towels from the beach club nextdoor and started to cover the bodies. There was a second body by the side of the truck and I assumed that was probably the perpetrator because the body wasn't covered and there were lots of police around it.'
European Council president Donald Tusk said Europe stands united with the French people in the battle against violence and hatred, while Belgian foreign minister Didier Reynders both described the attack as 'barbaric'.
British Prime Minister Theresa May is being kept up to date on the 'terrible incident' in Nice, a Downing Street spokesman said.
He added: 'Our thoughts are with all those affected by this terrible incident on what was a day of national celebration'.
France's ambassador to the United States, Gerard Araud, said last night that the world's democratic states are under attack in a Bastille Day reception in Washington.
'Our democracies - France, the United States, our other partners , we are besieged, we face a terrible threat.'
The country is already in a state of emergency after 130 people were killed in a terror attack in Paris in November. After last night's attack it was extended for another three months.
Following last night's horrific terror attack in Nice President François Hollande has promised to show 'real force' in Iraq as he confirmed that children were among the dead.
The French leader has returned to Paris from the city of Avignon to hold an urgent meeting at the Interior Ministry and is expected to head to Nice later this morning along with the Prime Minister.
Mr Hollande held a press conference shortly after Thursday night's incident, which left at least 77 people dead after a truck ploughed through crowds watching fireworks as they celebrated Bastille Day.
In an emotional speech, he said: 'Last night a lorry hit a crowd of people in Nice with the intention of killing. At the time I speak there are 77 victims, of which many are children.
'Once again we have seen extreme violence and it is obvious we must do everything to fight against this terrorism.'
In the meeting he will seek advice on how France should react to the attack, which took place just hours after he issued a statement confirming that he would end the nation's nine-month state of emergency.
Speaking earlier in the day, the President announced that the extreme terror threat level - which had been in place since the November 13 attacks which left 130 dead - would not extend beyond July 26.
According to France 24, the state of emergency was extended three times by parliament in an effort to provide additional resources to ensuring safety through the Euro-2016 soccer tournament, which concluded on Sunday.
ut following last night's horrific attack, he has now confirmed the state of emergency will be extended by a further three months.
Speaking at the press conference, Mr Hollande said: 'The driver of the lorry was shot and killed. We are investigating whether he was linked to any others.
'I want to express my solidarity with the nation, which is now in mourning. I have instructed all regional hospitals to be prepared for an influx of the injured.
'Under these circumstances we must display caution. and we must work together, but we must during this busy weekend show care and attention for security.
'I will once again mention our highest military operation of security, which will now allow the mobilisation of 10,000 military officers across the country.
'This will cover all brigades of the police, who will be called from across the country, to the Nice region to assist their comrades
'We will also pay much attention to tightening borders and I will now announce that the state of emergency which was meant to be lifted will be extended a further three months.
Boris Johnson said he is 'shocked and saddened' by the tragedy, which will be the first major international incident he will deal with as Foreign Secretary since being given the job earlier this week.
French Interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve said: 'We are in a war with terrorists who want to strike us at any price and in a very violent way.'
Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet gave an update on the rapidly developing situation. He said: 'There is no hostage-taking. An individual drove a truck into the crowd. He was killed by police.
'Investigations are currently under way to establish if the individual acted alone or if he had accomplices who might have fled.'
Local politician Eric Ciotti said: 'It's a scene of horror.' He confirmed the truck mowed down 'several hundred people'.
He said the truck drove for more than a mile hitting people along the promenade and confirmed the driver was killed by police 'apparently after an exchange of gunfire'.
The truck was riddled with at least 40 bullet holes. The front of the vehicle was badly damaged while the front tyres had been shot out.
The Paris prosecutor's office opened an investigation for 'murder, attempted murder in an organised group linked to a terrorist enterprise'.
Eyewitnesses reported there were exchanges of gunfire between police and suspected terrorists in Nice, southern France
People ran for their lives as the truck ploughed through the group of people in Nice, southern France
The Mayor of Nice has already admitted that 'dozens of people' have been killed in last night's attack
Bastille Day, which celebrates the storming of the Bastille prison in Paris during the French Revolution of 1789, is the country's biggest public holiday.
Nice mayor Christian Estrosi said: 'This is the worst Nice drama of history. We are terrified and we want to present to all the families our sincere condolences.'
He said flags in the city would be flown at half-mast, while a concert by US superstar Rhianna and the popular jazz festival have both been cancelled.
Horrific images depicting men and women lying on the side of a road close to the Promenade des Anglais appeared on social media.
Fireworks were filling the night sky as the drama unfolded, as the crowds enjoyed July 14th, which is always a Bank Holiday in France.
France has been repeatedly targeted in recent months.